Coffee And Caffeinated Beverages
Some people may experience heartburn when drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
This is because caffeine has been shown to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn (
Even though coffee may cause heartburn in some people, not all studies have observed a link between coffee and acid reflux symptoms.
One study that included 1,837 people, 25% of whom had GERD, did not find a significant link between coffee consumption and GERD symptoms .
Though the research remains inconclusive, if you tolerate coffee, theres no need to avoid it. On the other hand, if coffee gives you reflux and heartburn, its best to avoid it or limit your intake.
Some people may experience heartburn when drinking coffee, though the link between coffee intake and heartburn is not very clear. If coffee gives you heartburn, its best to avoid it or reduce your intake.
What If Medication Or Lifestyle Changes Don’t Help
Your provider may request more testing if lifestyle changes and medication did not help. These tests include a pH test to check for acid in your esophagus or an endoscopy. This test uses a small tube with a camera and light to see inside of your digestive tract and spot any issues.
MedlinePlus National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases American College of Gastroenterology
What Happens If You Have Frequent Heartburn
The esophagus is prone to several conditions and disorders. Sometimes considered frequent heartburn, Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the valve in the esophagus doesnt work properly. GERD can also cause acid regurgitation when the acid from the stomach comes up through the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth.
A few potential concerns that can result from untreated GERD or frequent heartburn are Barretts Esophagus and potentially a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma. Barretts esophagus occurs when the esophageal lining changes, becoming more like the tissue that lines the intestines. Your doctor will test for Barretts esophagus with an upper endoscopy and may order additional tests as needed. This assessment is very important because undetected and untreated Barretts esophagus can lead to esophageal cancer.
Although rare, Adenocarcinoma is increasing in frequency, making it more important than ever to have heartburn symptoms checked out. Experts arent sure exactly what is causing the increase in adenocarcinoma cases, and the increase has been seen mostly in white males, with the average patient being 67 years of age.
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Can Heartburn Be Prevented Or Avoided
You might be able to avoid heartburn by making some lifestyle changes.
- Place 6- to 9-inch blocks under the legs at the head of your bed to raise it.
- Try to eat at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down. If you take naps, try sleeping in a chair.
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
- Lose weight if youre overweight.
- Dont overeat.
- Avoid tight clothes and tight belts.
- Avoid foods and beverages that give you heartburn.
What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.
I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they don’t seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually can’t stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.
What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?
Try any or all of the following:
Will these changes stop the heartburn?
They may. If they don’t, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids don’t work?
If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.
What are acid blockers?
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Check If You Have Acid Reflux
The main symptoms of acid reflux are:
- heartburn a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
- an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid
You may also have:
- a cough or hiccups that keep coming back
- a hoarse voice
Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux , also called reflux, is when food and acid from the stomach go back up into the esophagus. This causes an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, often called heartburn.
With GER, reflux happens after nearly every meal and causes noticeable discomfort. After eating, people with GER feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat.
While it’s more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal reflux.
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How Do Acid Blockers Work To Treat Heartburn
Products like Pepcid AC® are called histamine H2 blockers, or acid blockers. Acid blockers reduce the production of stomach acid. They relieve heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach. Always follow the directions on the packaging or talk to your healthcare provider about how to take this medication. Acid blockers you can buy without a prescription include:
- Pepcid AC®.
- Tagamet HB®.
Take your acid blocker medicine regularly for as long as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you do not have any pain or if your symptoms get better.
Stronger acid blockers are prescription medications. These can be used to block stomach acid, treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid. Your healthcare provider will give you a specific prescription for this type of acid blocker.
The United States Food and Drug Administration recently reported elevated levels of a possible carcinogen, NDMA, in the drugs ranitidine and nizatidine . You should speak to your healthcare provider if you are taking one these medications.
How To Know When To Seek Medical Attention For Heartburn
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a board certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care.There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 360,049 times.
Heartburn is a common condition that causes an unpleasant burning sensation in the throat and chest. In most cases, heartburn is temporary and usually goes away on its own. No treatment is needed aside from some steps to relieve the discomfort it causes. But sometimes heartburn may indicate a more serious disease or problem. That is why it is important to know when heartburn is normal and when to see a doctor. Keep reading to learn when to seek medical attention for your heartburn.
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Take A Proactive Approach
That’s why, if you have had heartburn or acid reflux consistently for longer than three years, you should have an endoscopy, says Brown. An endoscopy is a simple procedure where a specially designed scope is used to examine the esophagus and take tissue samples, when necessary.
“The tissue samples or biopsies are examined to look for any abnormal cell growth,” Brown explains. “The hope is that we’ll be able to catch any abnormal cells before they become cancerous.
Patients who are diagnosed with Barrett’s typically undergo repeat endoscopies one year and three years later. If precancerous cells are seen at that point, treatment may involve surgical removal of the esophagus to prevent eventual progression to cancer.
But a technique available at Rush, the HALO Ablation System, enables doctors to use radiofrequency ablation to remove Barrett’s tissue completely, without invasive surgery and with relatively few complications.
“HALO ablation has shown to be an effective alternative to surgery in select patients,” says Brown. “However, the good news is that most patients with Barrett’s will never progress to the point that they require this level of intervention.”
Difficulty Swallowing And Sore Throat
If stomach acids go all the way up your esophagus, they can reach the back of your throat. This condition is called laryngopharyngeal reflux . Besides heartburn, you might feel symptoms like a in your throat or a . You may constantly need to clear your throat or have trouble swallowing. Lifestyle changes can usually correct LPR. Try eating a bland diet and stop eating three hours before bed. If you are overweight, losing weight may help relieve pressure on your stomach. Also skip caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
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When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your heartburn wont go away.
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
- Its hard or hurts to swallow.
- Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
- You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
- You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
- You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.
When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
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What Are The Health Consequences Of Gerd
Chronic reflux and GERD can cause serious complications. These include inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus, scar tissue that narrows the esophagus, spasms affecting the airway, chronic cough, damage to teeth, and exacerbated asthma symptoms.
In about 10-20% of cases of GERD, damage to the esophagus from stomach acid becomes a condition called Barrett esophagus. Barrett esophagus is considered to be the primary risk factor for esophageal cancer although not everyone with the condition develops cancer.
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Pick Comfy Pajamas And Clothes
Pajamas that are too tight or cut into your belly are not just uncomfortable they may also worsen nighttime heartburn. Tight pajamas increase pressure in your abdomen and may increase reflux events at night, Gabbard says. Opt for a loose-fitting, lightweight, comfortable pair. The same goes for daytime clothing: Make sure your clothes dont fit too snugly so you dont put pressure on your stomach all day and set the stage for nighttime heartburn.
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What Can You Do About Your Heartburn
A good rule of thumb is to seek medical attention if you have more than two episodes of heartburn a week especially if you notice difficulty swallowing, weight loss or anemia, Dr. Gabbard says.
Your doctor may help you lose weight or adjust your medications.
A change in blood pressure medicine may help reduce your heartburn symptoms, for instance. Or your doctor may suggest a proton pump inhibitor such as Prilosec OTC® or Nexium® to help control your GERD.
If your heartburn is worse at night, changing your sleeping position may help. Dr. Gabbard recommends using a body pillow or sleep-positioning device that helps keep you on your left side with your head elevated.
Finally, he has a warning for men over 50 who have chronic heartburn.
If at least two of these conditions apply you are Caucasian, have abdominal obesity, are a former or current smoker you may have a higher risk for Barretts esophagus, a precancerous condition that can lead to esophageal cancer.
Even if you are feeling fine, you should see your doctor. He or she may recommend a one-time scope examination to make sure there are no signs of the condition.
There is no pill to strengthen and restore your sphincter muscle to its younger days. But you can work with your doctor to reduce that burning sensation as you age.
Different Stages Of Sleep
A sleep cycle goes through stages that consist of two basic states: non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep. Each stage of the cycle is vital to getting a good nights rest.
- Stage 1: This is a brief stage a sleep between being awake and fully asleep. This stage is characterized by slowed muscle activity.
- Stage 2: The second stage of sleep is when the body temperature drops, brain waves become slower, and the breathing and heart rate stay regular.
- Stage 34: The most restorative sleep occurs during these stages. The breathing slows down, the blood pressure drops, and activity stops in the muscles. Energy is restored and repair to tissue occurs. Hormones for growth and development are also released in this stage.
- Stage 5: The only stage of REM sleep is stage 5. Breathing becomes rapid and irregular. The heart rate increases and the blood pressure rises. This stage gives energy to the body and the brain as the muscles are even more relaxed. It is in this stage that dreams occur. Studies also suggest that REM sleep stimulates the part of the brain used for learning and memory.
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Conditions And Habits That Put Pressure On The Les
In certain situations, your stomach and the LES are under pressure and, as a result, acid can sneak back into the esophagus, causing the unpleasant heartburn symptoms. The most common cases include:
- Pregnancy: As the baby grows, it puts strong pressure on the stomach and the LES often fails to keep the acid inside. Thats why many pregnant women experience heartburn.
- Large, late-night meals: Large portions add more pressure to your stomach. If you lie down right after a meal, gravity will work against you and increase the pressure even more. And you know the consequences Thats why large, late-night, junk food meals make for the worst heartburn combo. Same goes for your afternoon nap so try to wait 1-2 hours after lunch.
- Hiatal hernia: This means the stomach is dislocated, often putting pressure on the LES and causing heartburn symptoms.
- Obesity: Increased weight and belly fat can also expose your stomach and LES to additional pressure, bolstering the acid reflux. Among other amazing benefits, controlling the body weight may put an end to your heartburn problems .
Other Causes Of Frequent Heartburn Are Listed Below
- Eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime can be one of the reasons behind heartburn. Try to avoid having meals just before we go to our bed. This causes the food to slide into our esophagus and trigger a burning sensation in our chest.
- Avoid drinking before bedtime. Drinking too much alcohol can invite heartburn problems.
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When To See A Doctor
If heartburn becomes chronic, it can lead to respiratory problems, inflammation, and narrowing of the esophagus.
If you have symptoms that include the following, you should contact your doctor.
- The heartburn wont go away.
- You have serious wheezing.
- The symptoms of heartburn are more frequent and severe.
- You have consistent hoarseness.
- There is unexpected weight loss.
- You have been taking over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks, and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- Vomiting occurs because of heartburn.
- Prescription medicine doesnt relieve heartburn.
It is important to keep in contact with your doctor about your symptoms and progress. They can help you with any questions and concerns related to your specific condition.
Dont Reach For A Cigarette Alcohol Or Caffeine
Smokers may be tempted to have an after-dinner cigarette, but this decision can be costly in more ways than one. Among the many health problems that smoking can cause, it also encourages heartburn by relaxing the muscle that normally prevents stomach acid from coming back up into the throat.
Caffeine and alcohol also negatively impact the function of the esophageal sphincter.
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Delaying Treatment For Gerd May Lead To Complications
If GERD goes untreated, it can lead to more serious complications. One such issue is esophagitis, which is inflammation in the esophagus. Hagan says that if esophagitis is not treated, you may develop a stricture, which is a narrowing of the esophagus that can lead to esophageal pain and affect proper swallowing.
Another complication of GERD is a condition called Barretts esophagus . Over time, the stomach acid causes cells in the lining of the esophagus to look more like the stomach lining, says Hagan. These changes, which happen on a cellular level, may in rare cases lead to a form of esophageal cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, BE is more common in:
- White males
- People older than age 50
- People who are overweight
Esophageal cancer is relatively rare, making up just 1 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. However, over the past few decades, the incidence rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma has been on the rise in North America and Western Europe, according to a report published in 2019 in the Journal of Gastroenterology.
Furthermore, a study published in January 2021 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, found that this form of cancer is on the rise in younger adults: Between 1975 and 2015, the incidence rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma increased by an average of 2.9 percent per year.
Additional reporting by Ashley Welch.